While some Montgomery parents have been worried that their elementary-aged children aren’t receiving the math acceleration they need in the new Curriculum 2.0, the county school system revealed Tuesday that, under the curriculum, all students should ready for higher-level math, sooner.
The goal is to get all students to Algebra 1 by eighth grade, which would allow them to begin taking college-level courses, such as AP calculus, by senior year.
“Algebra 1 by grade 8” is already one of the school system’s “Seven Keys to College Readiness,” but it is not the designated course path for all students.
The current math pathway allows students to be accelerated through courses to achieve this, but in 2012 only about 70 percent of eighth-graders took algebra 1, according to school system data.
The goal is “lofty,” according to Linda Sheffield, a professor emerita from Northern Kentucky University and curriculum expert who the board invited to speak at their meeting on Tuesday.
“I would think that it is a nice long-term goal,” Sheffield said.
Sheffield said most colleges do not expect to see calculus on a high school transcript.
The school system data also showed that as the school system has pushed more students into algebra 1 before high school in the last few years, more students failed the course.
The school system believes that more students will be ready for algebra in middle school under Curriculum 2.0, because the curriculum goes deeper into fewer concepts, and so students should have a basic understanding of concepts, said Erick Lang, associate superintendent for curriculum and instructional programs.
Lang said students will no longer be skipping grades in elementary school, which has previously led to holes in their basic content knowledge when they got into higher-level math.
Lang and other school staff also addressed Tuesday the concerns that school board members and parents have raised about opportunities for acceleration in kindergarten through third grade, where the curriculum has already been rolled out.
Lang said central office staff is working with individual schools to see that teachers and school staff know of the acceleration options that are available for students who are ready.
Also, while principals may not have been aware of the flexibility they had to group students of different abilities to allow for greater acceleration, the school system has now cleared that up through multiple statements to principals, Lang said.
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said he understands that the school system’s messaging has not been clear on the curriculum, and this is one of the most significant shifts in teaching and learning that he can remember.